PRO’s: Beautifully done interior, wide variety of standard features on the “S” model, sub-30K price, BIG POWER!
CON’s: Wooden brake pedal feel, torque steer.
FINAL THOUGHT: Finally, a great alternative for those looking to breakout of the plain vanilla mold offered up by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
As of this count 15,190,702 people have watched the ad that Chrysler released for its new 200 back in February of 2011. It featured Eminem, the broken down city of Detroit and portrayed the Chrysler 200 as some sort of tough, back street bruiser that could have only been built in the motor city. Now while the majority of us simply saw the 200 as a revamped Chrysler Sebring, Chrysler wanted to paint a different picture. This is a new 2012 Chrysler 200S in deep cherry red, and while it’s no back street bruiser, it is a car that surprised the hell out of me in the week that I spent with it.
When this car came out every automotive journalist I know dismissed it as a redo – myself included. The problem though is that we were all wrong, dead wrong. Yes, the 200 shares some of its architecture with the now dead Sebring, however the designers and engineers have done more than enough to not only change the car, but make it a very, very good automobile.
Not much to see here thanks to a tacky engine cover.
Lets throw this out early shall we – the 2012 Chrysler 200S stickers for $29,170.00. It has a 3.6-Liter V6 that makes 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque (best in class). It comes stock with an engine oil cooler, 160 amp alternator, big-ass 6.5″ touch-screen display, leather heated bucket seats with suede inserts and one of the best leather wrapped steering wheels I’ve experienced.
Even uncovered it’s still not a pretty sight… powerful though.
Where the old Sebring felt like an old wallowing rental car, the new 200 feels tightly built and sporty. This is the “S” model, not the Limited, Touring, or LX which means that the little “S” is the reason that I’m so fond of this car. Whereas other 200 models get the base 2.4-Liter I4 that produces 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft torque, this model gets another 106 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque. People, that’s a massive power increase for a mid-sized sedan. More so, the “S” package makes you feel like you’ve actually purchased something substantial for not a lot of money.
Driving the 200S is a very enjoyable experience, although front leg room may be a bit cramped for drivers over 6’2″ tall. Nicely weighted and neutral steering provides good feedback from the front drive sedan and the revamped chassis and suspension give a ride that will suit most any driver. Stomp on the go pedal and the 200S will send you to 60 mph in under 6.5 seconds, however with that comes a fair amount of torque steer.
Handling feel is also neutral, but thanks to the standard 18″ x 7″ wheels shod with 225/50 series tires, you can actually drive the 200S at a brisk pace and never feel hampered. When it came to braking the mid-sized Chrysler has a brake pedal that offers up somewhat of a wooden feel that can be difficult to modulate. Stops were always brisk and absolutely controllable, even from high speeds, but the lack of pedal travel meant that braking around town took a bit of getting used to.
Open the doors and you’ll immediately notice that the cabin is a very nice place to be. Comfortable leather seats feature suede inserts and high quality stitching as well as 8-way power and heat for the driver’s seat. Passengers get 4-way manual functionality with heat included as well.
Gauges include a full size speedometer and tachometer with fuel and temperature auxiliary gauges present as well. One nice feature on most new Chrysler products is the inclusion of an in-dash command center that lets the driver monitor everything from tire pressure and mileage, to navigation and vehicle settings. All of which can be controlled through buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
Rear seat room is fine for anyone 6′-tall or under and when combined with a trunk that has 13.6 cu-ft of cargo space, you can rest easy knowing that you can take a family of four away for the weekend with no worries whatsoever.
Fuel economy on the 200S was actually quite good, especially when you consider that you’ve got a V6 under the bonnet that makes almost 300 hp. For example, where the base inline-4 gets ratings of 20 city/31 hwy, the V6 gets 19 city/29 hwy. This has to make one wonder why you’d opt for the I-4 at all. I showed a combined mileage of around 22 mpg driving over 300 or so miles. Not bad for a mid-size sedan with that much power.
So, at days end how would I rate the Chrysler 200S? I’d say it’s probably the best mid-sized car you can buy for under 30K. It offers up nice performance, with a great interior and nice features for a price that won’t break the bank. Plus, you’ll enjoy not being another one of the masses that’s driving around in a plain vanilla Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.